Liane Spicer – Café au Lait

Critics May Lie

This is an official Caribbean Books Foundation review

Every time I do a review or have to write something not solely because I feel like it, I suffer a bit. I want to write what I want to write damnit!  pouts like a 5-year-old

But every time I hit this wall I remind myself that I am an adult (puts on my big girl pants), and more importantly, I’m a professional or at least I would like to be taken seriously. This isn’t about me, it’s about letting you know the deal so you can make an informed decision. It’s about building up my rapport, finding my own unique writing voice, learrrrrning.

If you’re wondering what I’m babbling on about, this month’s review is… drum roll, please…

cafeaulait-lianespicer Oh boy.  sweats

A romance novel. sigh

I like romance. I like novels. But somehow when the two mesh together… not…

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How to raise an Unselfish child in a Selfish world? – The Importance of Mercy

How to raise an Unselfish child in a Selfish world?

Part 1 – The Importance of Mercy

It’s S.E.A. season and I can’t tell you how many times I have to check myself and I wonder if I should push hard for the “good school mantra” or not. We all want our children to do and be their best but can we accept their best to be enough. I look at my child and I see every artistic talent that I have and more, (so much more) how can I deliberately put her in this academic box and then convince her to follow her talents later on.  

What do I say: “Just concentrate on S.E.A now and after we’ll change the rules and be different.”    

Didn’t it all work out for us, good school or not. Aren’t we living our life in spite of that drama; aren’t we running businesses, excelling in jobs and persevering. I am and I wished I started sooner.       

I worry that I am teaching my children to be too competitive, selfish at such an early stage in life, as she tries to fulfill my dreams, she’s becoming a little tyrant, maybe a miniature version of me. 

The Power of Mercy

What is Mercy? Compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm. 


Each generation molds the next generation and yes, we continued where the last generation started, they transformed the dynamics of the world putting the nuclear family above the village and we perfect it.  

We paved the playgrounds because grass was too dirty, we say stay inside and watch TV so your expensive clothes won’t get dirty, we say don’t bother playing with the neighbors children, they’re not like us, watch your tablet instead.  

We tell them don’t feed stray animals because they’ll hang around and then we’ll have to feed them everyday.  

We interview their friends and say who’s good enough, who’s smart enough, who has enough. We strategically move them away from those type of friends we don’t like to those we do.  

We say don’t share your snacks, your lunch, don’t help them with their homework, don’t let them see your answers. We say, I didn’t buy school supplies for you to share with your friends. We tell them not to forgive their classmates, just stop talking to that child, we say. When was the last time we sent our children with something to share with the class for no reason at all. We teach them not to forgive, unkindness and selfishness. They don’t even know what charity means much less mercy. It’s just them and you in the world now and guess what one day they’ll realize you lied to them.  

You see children are genuinely merciful, they are born with mercy written in their very being until we push it out of them. Have you ever noticed how they play, they forgive and forget, they share, they cry for each other, it’s astounding and I wish I can tap into that innocence so easily again.   

I am selfish and it’s hard to push it down and re-train myself some days, because my reflex is bitch mode. It’s even harder to teach my child the things I know I should, when I’m fighting with myself to retain them. You see, mercy to me is sometimes akin to insanity, I admit it, I scream to the heavens, “You got to be kidding me, really!” at least once a month, and that’s a good month.  

Sometimes, I have to admit to her that I was wrong, that she should be kind, she should help in spite of any reservations I may have. She should follow her heart, and begin to hear the voice of God on her own.      

You see mercy is more that just kindness, forgiveness and charity, mercy comes from your soul not your head. Mercy says you’ve done me wrong, and I have the right to chastise you but I’ll forgive you and work with you to be a better person. Mercy is categorized as a noun but it’s really a powerful verb, you demonstrate mercy. These days I just say, “God of the universe help me to get this lesson of mercy without it killing me.” 

Some days i am convinced that my generation is too long gone, there is so much fear in us to help this world but we can stop and step back and give our children’s generation the opportunity to redeem us all.   

Teach your children mercy by showing them mercy, demonstrate by showing mercy to others.  If you want your children to understand divinity give them the gift of mercy.  

Mercy is fearless.

Mercy is freedom. 

Mercy is peace.





W. St. Cyr – Fields Of Death

Critics May Lie

This is an official Caribbean Books Foundation review

First of all, let me just say that most reviews I’ve seen for this book have been glowingly positive but from the stand point that they can’t believe such a hard core crime novel came out of Barbados.

I find that a little insulting and I refuse to join in your amazement. There are incredibly talented people from that island who are capable of anything and I will not let this review be bulldozed by the low-expectations placed on a clearly talented author. Sorry but only honest reviews here.

When I chose Fields of Death to review, it really was the cover art that drew me, so kudos to the graphic artist, whoever they are. Cover art matters!

fields of death

It drew me to find out more about the story behind the book. The cane field murders in Barbados. Now I’m not going…

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Stakeholder Consultation regarding proposed Literature Amendments to the Art & Culture Tax Allowance


On Fri, Feb 22 the Ministry of Culture sent out the following correspondence below to Stakeholders which is in response to lobbying by Caribbean Books Foundation in Trinidad for Writers to be included as Art and Cultural Allowance. This proposed Consultation is a huge step to revitalize our Literature Industry please take the time out to share your views at the Consultation.

The letter that was sent to request this initiative is available here to review:  letters.admendmenttoArtandCulture Allowance.Min.Culture from Caribbean Books Foundation

I will be sending in names by 7th March, if you have an interest in being apart of this let me know or you can contact the Ministry directly.

Marsha Gomes-Mckie, Founder

Caribbean Books Foundation


Good day,

The Artist Registry intends to embark on a pilot stakeholder consultation session regarding proposed amendments to the Art & Culture Tax Allowance. In order to do so we would like to have a diverse cross section of representatives from the literary community and as such we are asking for your suggestions on persons who should be contacted for the session to be held in March (further details to come). At this point we would like to put together an initial list of persons and different bodies to invite for meaningful discussion. This will be a working session and we hope to have some solid suggestions by the end of the exercise. 

If you can send us a preliminary list of names along with contact information of persons who you think would be vital to this process by Friday March 8th it would be much appreciated. Once the details are finalized we will work on sending out an invitation with the date, time and more details regarding the session to both you and the list of names provided.

Thank you for your time and we look forward to conducting this exercise with your assistance in the very near future.

The Secretariat
The National Registry of Artists and Cultural Workers
JOBCO Building
51-55 Frederick Street
Port of Spain
Office Nos: 868.225.4023 ext 4058 / 4059 / 4061 / 4063



How to Write Best Selling Children’s Books

How to Write Best Selling Children’s Books

This was an interesting read, wanted to share. Taken from WikiHow edited by Lucas Halbert, Horses4Ever, Nicole Willson, Sondra C and 8 others

There are seven fundamental reasons that some books succeed and others collect dust on the author’s bookshelf. These seven keys to success as an author are simple, obvious even, and yet in the midst of our writing many of us forget them. We get so focused on the idea of the book that we forget the mechanics. Here is the strategy that award winning authors use:

  1. Create a hero that your audience can relate to
  2. Examine your target market honestly. Who will be reading your book? Just because you think that your main character is funny, charming and brilliant doesn’t mean your audience will. Write about what your audience cares about.
  3. Write for your audience, not your high school English professor. There has already been a Shakespeare. Most genres do not require you to write like him. You will just turn your audience off if you write at a level beyond their comprehension.
  4. Give your reader a problem that he or she can empathize with. For example are you writing for teenage girls? Then something to do with the pains of adolescent romance, or lack thereof, might be a good start.
  5. Provide a nemesis that makes sense. The antagonist in your story should appear to be everything that your main character is not. Then go back in and give him or her some good qualities as well.
  6. People are not good or evil. Your characters should have the same character traits, as the rest of humanity.
  7. Example: A Thief with a Conscience or who hates everyone except his little sister, who he has taken care of since their mom died.
  8. Give all your characters depth.
  9. Provide obstacles for your main characters. Both your hero and antagonist need to have a few bumps in the road. Life isn’t smooth. Let them both screw up and figure their way out of their messes.
  10. Your hero, at the very least, must learn a lesson about himself or herself. Is he braver than he thought he was? Is her nerdiness actually an asset?
  11. Your characters should have some type of self-realization. It can be subtle. You do not have to go into a five chapter monologue on it, just give the readers some clues that he or she has changed.
  12. Begin and end your story with a bang. Grab your reader’s attention in the beginning and have them hoping for a sequel in the end. The rest, no matter how much work you put into it, will probably be skimmed until they hit the next seat gripping scene. Your job is to make that skim time as short as possible.


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Book Review: Home Home by Lisa Allen-Agostini

Home Home by Lisa Allen-Agostini is the 2017 third place winner of the Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature.

At just ninety pages, it is a quick but enlightening read about a fourteen year old girl’s struggle with mental illness. Kayla, a Trinidadian residing in Trinidad, is shipped to care of her aunt in Canada after a failed suicide attempt. Her aunt and her lesbian live-in partner welcome Kayla as their guest with an option to stay on a more permanent basis.

The sexuality of the couple is of no relevance to Kayla; they are stable and very supportive. Without reason, she is guilt-riddled about burdening the childless ladies especially because they were not obligated to accept such a huge responsibility. Kayla’s mother had always been ignorant and in denial about her condition hence sending her away. As a result, their mother-daughter relationship continued to be strained and dispassionate.

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Book Review: The Art of White Roses by Viviana Prado-Nunez

The Art of White Roses by Viviana Prado-Nunez is the 2017 winner of the Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature.

Thirteen year old Adela lives in the midst of a revolution in Cuba. She is not oblivious to the discord that is happening around her but as times go on more and more events are unexplained. First, a well-loved young lady goes missing, then Adela’s own cousin, Miguel survives a boom attack at the hotel where he works. However, nothing makes an impact as much as the devastation that unexpectedly hits her parent’s marriage. The family discovers that her father was having an affair with a prostitute. Before long that is the least of their problems.

Adela cannot forgive her father; she questions why her mother is tolerating him and his mistress. She focuses on solving another mystery with her brother and cousin Miguel and they are led to…

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Book Review: The Beast of Kukuyo by Kevin Jared Hosein

One of my favorites as well.

The Beast of Kukuyo by Kevin Jared Hosein is the 2017 second place winner of the Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature.

An adventurous story about a girl’s choice to investigate the murder of her classmate, The Beast of Kukuyo follows Rune as she tracks clues and uncovers secrets.

Rune, a lover of the TV show Murder She Wrote, lives with her grandfather and alcoholic brother. She is an outcast at school except for her friend Tiki, a good looking boy who’s abusive father dislikes her. Tiki is her voice of reason; a voice she rarely obeys.

When Rune is mistakenly dubbed a thief while investigating a lead, her grandfather punishes her by making her work for a pig farmer. It takes her a while to relax with him. However, her discovery of a bag of teeth in his bedroom alleviates the pity she felt for him. She…

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Submit your novel …

Do you have a great fiction novel or manuscript, creative non-fiction, or graphic novel for youth ages 12 to 18? Well did you know that the CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature 2019 submissions are open,so you can submit.

This competition has proven to bring success, recognition and a publishing deal to a number of Caribbean writers. The CODE Burt Award has jumped started a number of writing careers, maybe next year you can be the winner. 

The NGC Bocas Lit Fest is now accepting submissions for consideration to the 2019 CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature – see link below for guidelines.

2019 will be the 6th year for this YA Lit award! To date, over 37,000 copies of award-winning YA novels have been distributed throughout the Caribbean to young readers. This literary award and readership initiative recognize excellence in Caribbean-authored literature for young adults, ages 12 through 18. The NGC Bocas Lit Fest oversees the submission and adjudication process. The jury is composed of Caribbean writers, educators, and literature specialists, and this year a new addition a young adult reader (which is so exciting, as young readers get to say what they like to read, which can make a big difference in giving readers books they want to read and not just books adults think they want to read. This decision gives more value to the winning titles.)

Three English-language books/manuscripts created by Caribbean writers will be awarded a joint sum of ($14,000). The winning title is awarded $10,000, and the two finalists each receive $2,000. Local Caribbean publishers are granted a guaranteed purchase of a maximum of 2,500 copies. These copies are then distributed to youth in schools, libraries, and community centres across the region.

The CODE Burt Award is sponsored by the Literary Prizes Foundation based in Canada, CODE is an insightful organisation determined to showcase literature around the world from diverse cultures. You should visit their website at  and support every effort by becoming a financial or promotional partner, you will not regret it. You can support writers by supporting them. As little as $10 a month can help put CODE books into the hands of a child in rural communities, changing the child’s life story forever. See

Eligible manuscripts and books published between November 1, 2017, and October 31, 2018, must be submitted to the NGC Bocas Lit Fest no later than October 31, 2018.

Eligibility guidelines and submission forms are available as a pdf here and from Bocas Lit Fest: